Words and photos by Jared Wilson
Nottingham hip-hop B-boys the P Brothers (DJ Ivory and Paul S) have made beats for NYC legends like Sadat X from Brand Nubian, Money Boss Players and Donald D over the last decade.
As DJ's, they have and have spun alongside Marley Marl, Brand Nubian, Smooth the hustler, Jeru, Master Ace, Crossfader, Cash Money, Charlie Chase, & Kool Herc.
All the skills they have today were honed within the boundaries of the NG postcode. They're the classic example of what can come when you take bedroom DJing and production out of the bedroom and into nightclubs and studios.
On their transatlantic supersonic journey they're keen to let you know about the heavy talent that lies in the City like Scorzayzee, Mr 45 and Cappo (who's new LP 'Spaz The World' they have just completed production of).
When did you two first start working together?
Ivory:"We were both breakers in Rock City in Nottingham in the early 80's. When things started dying out there we'd see each other in more hardcore clubs and then out looking for records and stuff. There was none of that pally pally shit that's in hip-hop now. It was competitive stuff. We'd both have carrier bags of records and not let other people look in. But there was always a mutual respect between us and eventually things took their natural course and we set up a sound system together."
Paul S: "Hip hop is our life. We get out of bed every day to make hip-hop. Me and Ivory were doing our own things, but when we got together it just seemed right."
How does Nottingham compare to New York?
Paul S: "As a general vibe very similar. Nottingham has always been a real hardcore town. When Curtis Blow came here in 1982, he said it was like a mini Brooklyn. It's that kind of environment, a heavy place with lots going off and people don't really hear about it. It gives the town a certain kind of vibe and we represent that. The industry is based in London, but that's all some trendy shit. We do this shit every day and that's not a front."
"We're both doing our things and to me that's what similar. Back in the day people from New York and Zulu Nation came here and showed people how to break and certain things about the culture and gave us tapes and stuff. We've had that influence from very early on and grown up with that mindset. When we got to New York we feel like we're at home."
Ivory: "One borough is very different to the next in New York."
"There's more good music coming out New York and Nottingham now than for ages. When we speak to friends in New York they want the same as we do. We were with Sadat X (from Brand Nubian) at about the time the Nas tune 'Made You Look' came out. He was saying that in New York the tune was a landmark when people had almost given up hope. We were feeling that."
Do you sell many records in NYC?
Ivory: "Yeah, we sell there and get good feedback. DJ Muro, the 'king of digging' guy, was staying with a mutual friend of ours up in the Bronx. They were saying that after he'd heard Heavy Bronx 4 he went round all the record shops buying any of our stuff he could find. Pretty soon after some people in Japan contacted us with a big order for the new EP."
"A far as record collecting goes though, there's so much bullshit. If you're not DJing you shouldn't have breakbeat records in your house."
What do you think to the current New York scene?
Paul S:"People in New York want to hear loops. In the projects, hip-hop is different to the hip-hop in Manhattan. In the projects is the raw hardcore shit. That's what they want to rap on, but when you go to Manhattan it's full of Puff Daddy shit and whatever. That's cool, but the real shit is the project shit."
So you're getting round the world a bit then?
Ivory: "Yeah it's good! We're doing more in America than ever before, we've had the biggest order in Britain even before it's come out so it just feels good."
So what do you think to the current Nottingham scene?
Paul S: "We got Cappo, we got Scorzayzee, we got Lee Ramsey. We got the main gods in Nottingham working with us. We're blessed! If I can keep working with them I'll be happy forever. Nottingham is real heavy right now. It's a hardcore town where a lot of things go off that you don't necessarily get to see or hear about."
Ivory: "It's unique man, Nottingham is definitely an advanced place. It's almost unfair how good it is compared to the rest of the country. If you look at the emcees, producers and DJ's we got here and even the graffiti writers if you want to get that deep then we're representing in a big way. There are reasons for that, we got a deep history."
Tell me more?
Ivory: "Cos we haven't got millions of people around or media or everything, the only people we rep for here are the competition in Nottingham. When we put out our first EP we just wanted other people to feel it. In Nottingham nobody would show you any respect. You know if it's good if you just get a nod. That means it's absolutely bad! There's no pat on the back attitude here. Which is something that's kind of ruining hip-hop at the moment. You can't say wack things are good just to support them. It's not helping. If things are wack then call them wack, because the person might be pissed off but they just might come back with something that's going to advance it. That's how Nottingham is. There's a lot of unity here, but it's really competitive."
How did you hook up with Donald D?
Ivory: "It's just through our links with Zulu Nation. We keep in contact. He's out in Italy now and is part of that scene. We're doing a project with him which is a mix called the Zulu Beat. It's a tribute to the old Africa Islam Zulu Beat radio show from the early 80's that he emceed on. People have only seen a certain side of what we represent. We want proper breakbeats, I'm not talking about buying $100 records and showing them off to your friends, I'm talking proper beats, cut exactly how they are meant to be. Sticker them up and get busy!"
Do you go record shopping in NYC much?
Paul S: "Let's just say it's all about flea markets in Harlem."
Ivory: "A far as record collecting goes though, there's so much bullshit being talked about and so many people that see it as a trendy thing. We just want to get records back home and play them, they're not just to go on some shelf. If you're not DJing you shouldn't have breakbeat records in your house."
Paul S: "It's not about the trainspotting, it's about the real shit! People are caught up with record collecting, but with us it's about playing them."
Ivory:"The truth is you can't buy New York records in New York any more. New York is locked down. It's the first place that people go. People have been caning it for years."
Ivory: "Vinyl flows through this city quite a lot. Some people hit on hard times with drugs and end up selling their records so they go back into the system. We look for beats every day. There are a few spots around here. Half of Cappo's album was made of beats we found brand new in a record shop on the street we're sitting on. (note for all you crate diggers: we were sitting in Wax Café bar near Broadway)!"
Tell us, how is your protege Cappo coming along?
Paul S: "The boy is heavy and getting heavier all the time."
Ivory: "If Cappo was on a graph he would be off the scale. He's advancing at quite a frightening rate. There's some chemistry there that's unexplainable. He's already one of the best emcee's out there! We've worked harder on his LP than anything we've done before, but it's worth it!"
Check out the P Brothers and buy their records on www.heavybronx.com